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Men’s hockey wrapped up its regular season with a resounding 4-0 win over Princeton on Saturday night. With the win, Cornell secured fourth place in the ECAC standings, which gives it a bye to the quarterfinals of the ECAC playoffs. Cornell will host the best-of-three series starting on Mar. 11.
Entering the night needing a win or a trip to overtime to secure fourth, the Red (17-8-4, 12-6-4 ECAC) got off to a blistering start and never looked back. Freshman goaltender Ian Shane put together another dominant performance, finishing with a 23 save shutout one night after recording a 42 save shutout on Friday.
The Red wasted no time getting on the board. Just 45 seconds into the game, freshman forward Sullivan Mack gave Cornell an early lead when he wristed a shot from the slot past Princeton’s Jeremie Forget to put the Red in front, 1-0. The goal was the first of Mack’s career, and it came a week after what appeared to be his first goal was waved off following a video review.
Shortly after Mack’s goal, freshman forward Ondrej Psenicka was sent to the box for cross-checking. The Red killed that penalty and had a power play of its own late in the first period, but came up short.
After allowing a goal on the first shot of the night, Forget stopped the Red’s next 16 shots to close the first and send the game to the second period at 1-0.
With 16 and a half minutes left in the second, junior forward Jack Malone was sent to the box for tripping. A few seconds into their power play, the Tigers (8-18-2, 7-13-2) took a hooking call to negate their advantage.
Four minutes later, junior forward Zack Tupker was also called for tripping, but Cornell was able to kill his penalty to maintain its 1-0 lead.
With four minutes left in the second, junior defenseman Sebastian Dirven scored to give Cornell some breathing room with a 2-0 lead. The goal was Dirven’s first of the year.
Cornell went on a power play to close the period after a cross-checking call on the Tigers. The call came after Psenicka collided with Forget and Liam Motley took a check to the chest in the ensuing scrum. The Red was unable to convert on the power play, so it took its 2-0 lead to the third.
With the Tigers still battling for the right to host a playoff series and unable to find any answers to Shane, their frustration surfaced in the third period. Early in the third period, Princeton was called for boarding, and both teams were given roughing penalties after the play. Cornell failed to extend its lead on its fourth power play of the night.
Senior forward Liam Motley put the nail in the coffin with just over nine minutes left when he beat Forget with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle. Motley’s second of the season put Cornell up 3-0.
After another set of offsetting penalties with seven and a half minutes left, the Tigers opted to pull Forget and skate 5-on-4. Cornell capitalized on the decision when sophomore forward Kyle Penney scored on the empty net to give Cornell a commanding 4-0 lead.
Cornell defended its lead, and Shane completed the shutout. The Red closed out the regular season on a three game win streak and secured the first round bye with the win.